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Glastonbury 2004: THE CAMPING!

01 July 2004

With vandalised toilets, a muddy swamp and a rammed hospitality tent brimming with it-girls, pseudo-celebs and champagne fiends, VF decided to compare the supposed backstage luxury with the mythical drudgery of the “outside” camping...

Please click on a photo to enlarge it...

Traditional mythology holds that the Glastonbury camping experience consists of soggy tents, knee-deep mud, pillaging scousers and over-flowing portaloos. This was certainly the preconception of many festival virgins we were fortunate enough to chat to. However, modernists like the Evening Standard’s Alison Pearson claim that this is purely a myth invented by middle class 'champagne hippies', and that 21st century Glastonbury camping is in fact a ritualised “injection of artificial hardship (but not too much)” for the “Notting Hillbillies” aiming to test their people-carriers to the limit in an “extreme” drive to Somerset.

So is Glastonbury camping the hardcore experience of old or has the festival been invaded by Fulhamite chicks with rain-proof make-up, and two-up two-down tents that, as VF's Gran would adamantly have it, respond to a mobile phone signal should their owners find themselves lost, by vibrating and emitting a powerful laser beam into the night sky?

In reality, the Glastonbury camping experience is neither of these extremes whether backstage or not. The Backstage camping area enjoys the same rain, the same mud and, by Saturday morning, the same lavatorial conditions. It could be argued that a free cup of tea in the press tent and the hospitality tent’s immunity to English licensing law shifts the balance slightly in its favour, but having to contend with all the cocaine-fuelled industry bellends in the bar somewhat takes the edge off this!

Indeed, the backstage hospitality lacks that essential element of the festival – camaraderie. The enjoyment gained from watching an aspiring it-girl snuffle from one portaloo to the next, holding a hankee over her nose and mouth and wretching as she goes, is short-lived, and pails in comparison to that gained from communally cheering as guy-rope tripping students flip spectacularly into mud-caked heaps in the 'real' campsites.

In these main camping areas, even the misery of an England defeat on penalties can not dampen the festival vibe. We're sure that many were actually relieved, in a funny sort of way, by the dodgy Swiss ref’s decision, as it meant not having to listen to collective renditions of the 5,6,7,8’s “Ohh Ohh” for the entire festival.

Apart from a reported theft of a pole with an attached blow-up sheep (later recovered) and a fat woman sitting on a chair that wasn’t hers and breaking it, tent-related crime was refreshingly non-existant at Glastonbury 2004. The camping stewards had nothing negative to report and for many the collective mood seemed the best ever.

The conclusion? The comforts of backstage camping are relatively marginal and definitely lack the solidarity and chilled vibe that continues to define Glasto. The main camping areas are better than they ever have been and certainly less crowded or “dangerous,” and as Laura from Bristol puts it “the best ever.”

Back to our full Glastonbury 2004 coverage

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Article by: Emily Jenner
Thanks to: Ed Tull

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